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Edit: to the above viewer? Its people like you who give liberals a bad name. You have this gem of a film, and what do you choose to see? Out of all this good stuff? Just the bad. I would hate to be your neighbor.
This is one of the very best films I have seen on the archive. A very unusual film in its sensible, down to earth portrayal of an African-American family in the 1950's. The father is in the home, is kind and loving to his children, the mother seems like a fun, laid back gal who is very proud of her family, and the bit where she is doing the washing and the little girls knock on her door and they all start dancing together on the front porch is just pure gold. The fact that this was made in Georgia in the fifties is also sort of astonishing. The "Negro" is depicted as being normal, decent, and loving. Its evenhandedness in a time where black people had to use separate toilets and water fountains is kind of mind boggling. I think this film is so timeless in its portrayal of human behavior that it will always be entertaining. An absolute gem.
Subject: Very Interesting Look At History. But....
Narrator says: "Even with a good man, things like this will happen..."
Dad says: "Shut up or I'll bust you in the mouth."
I'm sorry. I think it's incredibly sad that this was portrayed as a normal way that a "good man" would speak to his wife when he's having a bad day. Violence towards women is not acceptable. Ever.
Rick Prelinger -
Subject: Descendant of Palmour Street residents writes about film
I just found this on dailykos.com. Adept2u viewed the film, speaks about family members and offers some thoughts.
Subject: More realistic than most
I am a 58 year old white woman from Texas. And, after seeing this film, I can say without a doubt, if I had my choice to sit on the porch and talk to a family and pass the time, I would pick anyone in this film over the folks in the white-bread perfection world of most of these 1950's Coronet films.
I agree with History Teacher's Assessment of this film completely.
Subject: A Snapshot of Everyday Life...
This is one that I use in class as a counterpoint to all of the 1950s Technocolor Fantasy footage found elsewhere in the archives. My students are mostly African-American, and the way my unit on the '50s in my textbook is set up, it goes point/counterpoint, with all of the Happy Days sorts of images and features of American life (prosperous, cool, and above all, very, very white) balanced against the poverty, opression and racisim that went on at the same time. The '50s was a bright, shiny lid clamped on a seething cauldron of social ills. When the lid pops off in the '60s, it isnt pretty...
In the meantime, most people lived pretty ordinary and decent lives, and this film poitrays this in a southern and African-American context very nicely. The kids instanly recongnise the community and culture they see (the town I teach in is not all that far in size or distance from Gainsville, GA). The kids seem to appreciate a black family that is poitraied as being so very NORMAL. Not perfect, but very real, and pretty healthy and well-funcitoning, and very NORMAL...
Christine Hennig -
Subject: The Other Side of the 50s
This 50s public service film shows us the stresses and strains of a typical family, and how the ways the parents handle things affect the children. But with a differencethis family is African-American and lives in rural Georgia. The family portrayed is basically a healthy one, though the parents have some flaws. This is pretty amazing, given how much stress they are under from living in a world of poverty and oppression. In fact, this film stands in stark contrast to the other films being made during this time. Instead of being a happy housewife in a clean suburban home filled with modern conveniences, like, say, in Young Mans Fancy, the mother in this film does her laundry with a tub and washboard after she gets home from working all day something that is not a choice for her, but a necessity, as the family desperately needs the money. In fact, she really wants to be able to stay home with her kids, because her only childcare option for the preschoolers is to leave them with cranky Aunt Esther, who showers affection on the baby while treating the other kids like dirt. Still, she considers herself lucky, because she has a good man who works hard, brings home his pay, and showers the children with affection. And you can tell that in her world, that is pretty damn fortunate. The oldest child in the family, a little girl of about 8 or 9, sensibly runs away from a creepy stranger who shouts, Hey little girl, come here! but she doesnt live in the squeaky clean world of The Cautious Twins, or even in the Sid Davis universe, but in a run-down neighborhood that probably has guys like that on every corner, making that interaction seem disturbingly real. The film ends on a somewhat tragic note when the father is seriously injured in an industrial accident. The mother spends a tense night at the hospital, and is finally told by a nurse that her husband will pull through, but you know he was just inches away from death. Still, you know his injury will be very hard on the family, and the film ends like a Centron discussion film, by asking the viewer What would you do? if you were in this womans place. But there are no easy, obvious answers to that questionits all too easy to imagine the family being destroyed by such a stressor. Granted, they do seem to be pretty tough, resilient people, but just how much can any family take before starting to fall apart at the seams? The film is well-made and portrays the family realistically and sympathetically. It promotes the sensible proposition that children wont be significantly damaged by the occasional family argument or harsh words, as long as they are the exception and not the rule. And although the film takes seriously the responsibilities of parents to bring their children up right, there is an implicit acknowledgement that social factors can make this difficult and can even place limits on the power parents have to give their children a good environment. Racism is not explicitly dealt with in the filmthe only scene of what seems to me to be explicit racism is when the white nurse talks to the mother in a simplistic tone one might use with somebody with mental retardationbut the incredible contrast this film makes to the films about white people speaks louder than words about the effects of racism. This is an important film to watch to contrast with the other films on the archiveit gives you the other side of the 50s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Subject: "HEY YOU KIDS! GET OFF THE PORCH!"
Curious hybrid of soap opera, history lesson, race relation film, melodrama AND coronet instructional film about a poor family growing up in the South. The Mother stays at home all day (save for a part time job) the father also has a full time job, and they have 4 hungry mouths to feed. All the acting here is pretty amazing. It looks obvious that the kids don't appear to be acting, as it looks like this is an actual family we're seeing. I would've liked to have kept the documentary thing going and not verge into soap opera territory ("Your husband's been hurt REAL bad!") but that's a bit of a minor complaint. The Aunt Esther character is really interesting too, as she reminds me of an Aunt in my family. Reccomended!
Robert Penn -
Subject: Stilted Effort nonetheless rings somewhat true
The point of this film was to instruct parents how to raise their children properly. The storyline that asks how the mother/children will carry on if the father (bread winner) is incapacitated is handled in a truly hoakie way, however, before that final/forced plot twist, I truly enjoyed seeing city Negroes going about their family life and work life in ways that don't fit either minstrel, blaxploitation or hip hop stereotypes.
The elemenyd are believable to me: the humble surroundings; the proud father; the self-righteous aunt; the mother who also works; and the dramatizations of how different women treat children differently. I grew up in a Black neighborhood in a midwestern city in the late 40s and during the 50s so the film brought up many nostalgic feelings.
It might seem too Ozzie and Harriet for some viewers, but I love seeing images like this. A lot of life in all-Black neighborhoods was and is just this simple.